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    Posted May 12, 2014 by
    ROBERTGAMBLE
    Location
    odessa, Ukraine
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Ukraine unrest

    ROBERTGAMBLE and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Ukraine crisis as it unfolds
    More from ROBERTGAMBLE

    What happened in Odessa, Ukraine on May 2nd

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Dr. Robert Gamble is a Presbyterian minister in Atlanta who founded and serves as the executive director of This Child Here, a non-profit organization that helps street kids in Odessa, Ukraine, move into homes and shelters. He lived in Ukraine from 2006 to 2010 and makes regular trips there.

    Gamble is currently in Odessa and visited the charred trade union building on Saturday, May 11, nine days after a street battle between Russian supporters and their opponents resulted in a deadly blaze that left more than 40 people dead.

    Gamble says he was hesitant to visit the site at first. "The mood was somber; people spoke in low tones if at all," he said. "Everywhere were flowers and candles."

    "This is a great tragedy for Odessa, a city that has had peaceful protests on both sides since things in Kiev began. It's a city where Russians and Ukrainians have gotten along quite well."
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    I walked through this building on Saturday, May 10th. The center of it was charred up to the windows on the top floor. The wings were damaged mostly by smoke. In some places there was blood on the floor. Everywhere there were flowers and memorials to the dead.

    Reports are, men from Russia and the Moldova/Transnistria area came to Odessa with automatic weapons to the rally and parade of Ukrainian soccer fans on Friday, May 2nd. Their faces and guns are quite visible on internet photos. Shots were fired and bricks thrown. People were killed or injured. Then for a while, the fighting stopped. One side had guns, the other, numbers and rage. The stronghold in Odessa of Pro-Russians was the Labor building, not far from the train station.

    Later that afternoon, Pro-Ukrainians in large numbers came to this location, and burned the tents of Pro-Russians on the grounds in front of the building. Molotov cocktails came down from the roof of the building and the same were tossed up. The building caught on fire. Thirty something people died in the fire. By the end of it forty six people had died of either smoke inhalation, bullets or beatings.

    If you know nothing of Ukraine, these events mean little to you, but if you have been here and seen the cultural sensitivity of these people, most of whom live far below what we consider the line of poverty, but with their opera house, ballet, and inclination to dress well, even with what little many have, you would know that what happened here is on the order of a political riot with shootings and a large building on fire in an old city like St. Augustine, Florida, with shocked tourists, terrified waiters and waitresses, and the import car dealers hurrying their latest models out of town.

    Extremists on both sides are at fault, but some got what they wanted which was death and disorder in Odessa. The real winner in the end was hate.

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